Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble

The Autumn Tag

It’s time for another autumnal tag! You know I love a tag when I’m trying to post something every day of a month. This is the Autumn Tag and it’s created by Jenniely, do go check their blog out. Now onto the tag!

1. Hot Chocolate – what is your comfort book?
I’m not sure if I have a comfort book anymore as it’s been so long since I’ve read a book multiple times, no matter how much I love a book. Thinking about it, the only book I think that fits this description – even though I’ve only read it the once – is The Martian by Andy Weir. It was such a fun and hopeful story and I adore the film adaptation.

2. Pumpkin Carving – what is your favourite creative outlet?
I don’t think I’m that much of a creative person. Though I guess my blog and writing for JumpCut Online are my creative outlet. I enjoy writing reviews for books and films and just generally being organised and scheduling posts ahead of time.

3. Falling Leaves – changes that appear bad, but you secretly love?
(This one is a bit ambiguous; it can refer to your life or fictional changes in books & movies!)
In terms of books, I sometimes struggle with stories that have multiple point of views or have been from one characters perspective for the majority of it and then suddenly switches to someone else’s, but in the end I do end up liking seeing another side to things more often than not. I think I tend to like multiple POV stories more than most people.

4. Pumpkin Spiced Latte – something you love that others tend to judge
Having a weekend doing nothing and staying in your PJs all weekend? I’m sure everyone enjoys lazy weekends now and then, but I still feel a little judged sometimes when I either say before a weekend that I have no plans so I’m really looking forward to the weekend, or if after a weekend people ask what you got up to and then I’m like, “I slept and watched Netflix and/or read books?” Guess this is one I should lean not to get too caught up in what other people think.

5. Bonfire Night – what makes you explode with joy?
Oh boy, after the year that has been 2020, I’d definitely say the answer to that is seeing my friends, especially in real life. I haven’t seen my best friend of ten years since February due to us living in different cities and I cannot wait to see her again. And I think even generally before 2020 I loved seeing my friends as I’m lucky enough to have a lot of different groups of friends who live in different places, so I’m used to not seeing some of them for a while but now it feels extra weird that I can’t see some of them – like it’s almost exactly a year since I’ve seen my work wife!

6. Fright Night – favourite scary book or film
I am a wuss so have read or watched very few scary things. There’s a sequence in Lirael by Garth Nix that I still think is one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. No matter how many times I reread that series, that sequence still freaks me out.

7. Halloween candy – favourite thing to eat
When the nights get darker and longer, I seem to eat a lot more biscuits – especially chocolate chip cookies and chocolate digestives.

8. Scarves – your autumn ‘must have’ accessory
Well it’s obvious but I do love a good scarf. I’m also a big fan of fingerless gloves even though they’re not too practical. Note to self: I need to get new fingerless gloves as I seem to not have a complete pair anymore.

9. Fire – a book or film that burns your soul
A recent read that made me very happy at a deep an emotional level was Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble by Graham Hunter. I just loved reliving those six incredible years in Spanish football and learning things I didn’t know about people and matches that I’d watched.

10. Toffee apples – a book or film that seems one thing but really has a different inside
For book I’m going to say The Passage by Justin Cronin, mainly because I didn’t realise it was a first book in what turned out to be a trilogy when I was reading it, so as I was getting through the story and there were less and less pages for everything to be resolved I was really freaking out!

As for films, I’ll mention Personal Shopper as for some reason I thought it was going to be a full on horror/thriller and while it certainly has those elements it was a much more impactful film than I thought it’d be.

I tag anyone who facies doing this tag!

REVIEW: Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble by Graham Hunter

This is the story of the greatest achievement in the history of international football. After decades of failure, Spain won the European Championship in 2008 and then the World Cup in 2010. At Euro 2012 they became the first team to win three consecutive tournament titles. Graham Hunter was inside the dressing room as the players celebrated after the finals of the World Cup and Euro 2012. His access-all-areas pass at all three tournaments has resulted in remarkable eyewitness accounts and new interviews with star players and the men behind the scenes.

I loved this book. I’ve talked before about how I support the Spanish National Team and how the 2008-2012 era is just my favourite thing and it was a pure delight to watch Spain’s success happening in real time, so reading Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble was just as delightful.

It doesn’t just follow the events of the three tournaments and give a play by play of each of Spain’s matches. The tournaments are a major part of it, but it also looks at the history of the Spanish National Team, the legacy of the coaches that led the National Team to victory, and how the players in this historic era got to where they are. The youth system is a major factor and it was interesting to learn about how the Royal Spanish Football Federation, the governing body for football in Spain, builds up and invests in players when they are so young. It’s not just teaching these young players the skills they need, but teaching them a good work ethic and attitude, and how to work as a team. This book makes clear how so many of the golden generation had grown up playing with each other, either for their club or their country, and how club rivalries mean nothing when they have a Spain shirt on – no matter how hard José Mourinho may have tried.

There are interviews with players, organisers, pundits, and coaching staff in Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble. The coaches and their staff are given their due and it’s clear that the players have respect for them. It’s interesting and impressive to hear how some of the more experienced players, like captain Iker Casillas, Carlos Puyol and Xavi (who acted as a second captain to the national side really), were involved in some big decision making and all players were allowed to share their thoughts. Luis Aragonés who coached the national side to victory in 2008, instilled a sense of pride and confidence in the players and wasn’t afraid to make big changes to the team, and then Vicente del Bosque who took over and coached Spain from 2008 – 2016, ran with the foundations that Aragonés had set.

Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble is definitely a book for fans of the Spanish National Team, but I think any football fan would gain something from this book. To see how it takes decades to produce players and a team of this calibre is important. Spain’s success didn’t happen overnight, and they had a lot of doubters, but the way this group of players, so many of whom were involved in at least two of the major tournaments, achieved something so extraordinary is to be admired. The players in this era were friends first rather than teammates and how they learnt to read each other so well, offer advice and support in important moments (it’s thanks to Pepe Reina’s advice and experience that Casillas saved Paraguayan José Cardozo’s penalty at the World Cup) and just work together so seamlessly is just wonderful.

You might think Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble would be a dry read but it’s actually really entertaining and often funny. There’s a lot of witty anecdotes from players and staff and Hunter does a great job at explaining events and finding humour in tense situations.

I had a huge grin on my face pretty much the whole time I was reading Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble. It was so much fun reliving Spain’s golden years, there were some things I knew or remembered but so many others were new to me and it was wonderful to learn more about these players and these teams that were such a solid unit. I just love these Spanish players and their friendships and this book really captures how the Spanish National Team really had captured lightning in a bottle and managed to hold on to it for six years. 5/5.

N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon 2020

The N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube. The N.E.W.T.’s are the next exams/readathon after the O.W.L.’s which took place a few months ago.

This readathon is inspired by the exams in the Harry Potter books. While J.K. Rowling has been problematic in the past, over the past few months her blatant transphobia has reached a new level of awful and harmful. Gi posted a video showing how she was torn about separating the art from the artist, how she felt about the future of the Magical Readathon and this edition of the NEWTs. She decided to give out the prompts for this readathon so people can complete their exams for their chosen careers but the readathon won’t be hosted on Twitter and the Magical Readathon will change next year – becoming something that doesn’t have close links to the world of Harry Potter.

I agree with and understand Gi’s decision. This is only the second year I’ve taken part in the Magical Readathon, but I like how inventive it is and how many books it encourages me to read in a month. I’ve decided that I will take part in the NEWTs in August. This is in part because I’m a bit of a completist but also because I’ve struggled a bit to read any books this past month and I hope this readathon will get me reading again.

After taking part in the O.W.L.’s readathon in April and successfully reading all the books/completing all the exams I need to be a Mage of Visual Arts and to learn to operate locomotive trains aka the Hogwarts Express, I now need to achieve Acceptable in two subjects – Astronomy and History of Magic – and achieve Acceptable and Exceeded Expectations in Divination and Muggle Studies. That means if I want to be qualified for my magical career, I need to read six books during the readathon which is doable for me.

I’ve looked through my bookshelves and while the below books are for the exams I need, I’ve also found books that will fit most of the other prompts if I read more or feel inspired. Because in real life my career has taken varied paths, I like to keep my options open even when it comes to fictional careers, so if I do get back into reading I’ll be trying to complete as many exams as possible in order to give me more career options and skills.

Astronomy: Acceptable – Star on the cover/in the title
A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldweel
Think this is one of the only books I own that has stars on the cover and they are there! They are just very very small.

Divination: Acceptable – Read a book with red on the cover
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl OR Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble by Graham Hunter OR How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
All these books have various amounts of red on the cover and I’m not sure which one I’m going to go with yet. I’m leaning towards Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble as it’s ten years since Spain won the World Cup and I’ve been big into my nostalgia feels about that recently, but it is one of the larger books at over 400 pages. We shall see how I feel.

Divination: Exceed Expectations – First unread book you look at
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol. 3: Family Reunion by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire
Bit odd to mention the third volume before the second but that’s what happens when you list your TBR in alphabetical order by subjects. I was looking at my unread comics and it was either this or West Coast Avengers, and as I’d like to finish this series before starting another one, I went with this.

History of Magic: Acceptable – Read a historical fiction
She Would be King by Wayétu Moore
I’ll be listening to this on audiobook and it’s nine and a half hours long which will take me about two weeks to read. She Would be King is a mixture of historical fiction and magical realism and follows three characters who share a bond.

Muggle Studies: Acceptable – Read a comic
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol. 2: Masks by Kelly Thompson, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Gang Hyuk Lim and Moy R.
I read the first volume of this series during the Reading Rush this past week so thought this would be a good time to continue with it.

Muggle Studies: Exceeded Expectations – Read a book written by an author of a different race than yourself
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Because of my Read the World Project I have a few books that’d fit this prompt, but I decided to go with a contemporary story as I can usually read them very quickly and it’s one I only got at the beginning of this month.

That’s my TBR for what will be the last N.E.W.T.’s. Usually I keep track of my reading on Twitter, partly to share my progress in the readathon and partly to hold myself accountable, but not sure if I will this time due to the kind of dark cloud over the readathon but we shall see what happens. Will you be taking part in the N.E.W.T.’s this year?